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Make a real impact on the world and its future.

This master's program meets the increasing need for trained environmental professionals who can address the problems of land and water management, land use and urbanization, wetland loss, microbial ecology, bioremediation, conservation biology, and ecosystem preservation. These professionals will also contribute to the analysis and resolution of global problems, such as deforestation, insufficient world food supplies, acid deposition, population growth and public health, global climate change/warming, and depletion of the stratospheric ozone.

The Rain Project Ecological Restoration of the Mason pond

Program Highlights

  • Environmental problems are defined in the real world and do not necessarily conform to traditional academic disciplines. As such, solutions require creative combinations of diverse interests and subjects. Effective training requires rigorous, problem-focused interdisciplinary action in a setting in which research is an essential element supporting instruction.
  • This has been designated a Green Leaf program.

Course Catalog

Review admission and course requirements for this degree:


Areas of specific departmental focus include ecosystems; conservation; environmental biocomplexity; molecular ecology; sustainability science; environmental policy and management; and human/environmental interactions.

Aquatic Ecology Concentration (AQEC)

This concentration will provide students with a well-grounded master's in the study of aquatic environments such as lakes, streams, watersheds, and estuaries. Emphasis is placed on  food webs, biogeochemical cycles, water quality, habitat characteristics, and life histories of aquatic organisms. Students will become proficient with research tools including literature review, field and laboratory methods, and analytical tools as well as applications to management issues.

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Conservation Science and Policy Concentration (COSP)

This concentration is designed to foster an interdisciplinary, research-oriented degree focusing on the conservation of threatened species and habitats, integrating biological sciences and the human dimensions of conservation practice.

Students may take courses offered by the Department of Environmental Science and Policy and other departments, including CONS courses which are offered through the Smithsonian Mason School of Conservation (SMSC) in Front Royal, Virginia.

This unique partnership offers students hands-on education in cutting-edge conservation science and human dimensions through residential, intensive classes. SMSC is renowned for its conservation research and training of conservation practitioners around the world and instructors for these classes are drawn from SMSC's conservation scientists and other experts from around the world

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Environmental Science and Policy Concentration (EVSP)

The Environmental Science and Policy concentration is the largest within the master's and serves as a home for a broad array of research foci. It encourages an independent and creative approach to the development of curricula that reside in the general field of environmental science and policy.

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Communication for Environmental Science, Policy, and Human Behavior (CESP)

The ability to communicate underlies all successful human cooperation. With the growth of anthropogenic global threats such as biodiversity loss and climate change, communication that supports environmental knowledge formation, policy, and behavior change is needed more than ever. Two courses in the concentration from the department, supplemented by those across the university, will allow students to focus on one of these topics. Other classes aside from the core courses may be substituted as needed.

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Environmental Management Concentration (EVM)

This concentration combines the managerial and administrative skills developed in a traditional master of public administration degree program with the scientific knowledge and understanding normally found in a master of science degree. It serves as a terminal professional master's degree for individuals working in or aspiring to work as managers in the environmental field in government or private industry.

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Energy and Sustainability Policy and Science Concentration (ESPS)

Many mid-level energy and sustainability positions in the public and private sectors require multidisciplinary grounding in science, policy, and methods. To provide such a foundation, this concentration combines the scientific knowledge normally acquired through a Master of Science degree with development of relevant policy and methods skills.

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Conservation Medicine and Planetary Health Concentration (CMPH)

Conservation Medicine and Planetary Health (CMPH) are emerging disciplines that address complex health problems that follow disturbances to the Earth’s natural systems requiring transdisciplinary collaborations, systems thinking, and adaptive management approaches to health and ecology. Conservation Medicine evolved from the singular key principle that health connects all species in the planet. Planetary Health is focused on characterizing the human health impacts of anthropogenic disruptions of Earth's natural systems. The CMPH concentration will provide training in quantitative and qualitative research methods and expand the student’s ability to think outside of the box and work beyond traditional disciplinary silos to address complex health issues rooted in ecological principles.

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